Why it’s so easy to destroy brand reputation – and how to avoid it.

In a recent article Marketing Week looks at the issue of brand reputation and how easy it is to shape – or conversely, devalue – it.

We look at why reputation is so fragile, and the strategies you need to take to preserve and improve your own brand’s standing.

  • Learning from a branding expert

The article is based on an interview with brand guru Rita Clifton, former CEO and chair of consultancy Interbrand and now chair of consultancy BrandCap.

Clifton was a leading proponent of the idea of ‘brand value’ at a time when brands were not recognised as corporate assets.

Although she acknowledges that the concept of valuing brands has moved on, and that ‘there is a much more dynamic and business-shaped approach to how you look at brands as business assets now’, the importance of the brand in overall corporate success remains.

  • The brand is central to corporate success

Clifton believes that the most successful companies are the ones that ‘stitch the brand into everything they do’.

The article also suggests that ‘everything a company does – shaping, developing and communicating the products and services of that organisation, as well as the customer experience and even corporate governance’ – needs to be driven by the brand.

If the brand is central to the way you communicate and operate, and to your approach to governance, the same is also true in reverse.

Remember compliance is crucial to your brand strategy. Everything you do as a business impacts your reputation, reinforcing it or undermining it.

  • How to preserve your brand in a fast-moving world

The speed of the modern world is one thing Clifton cites as central to the risks corporates face today, saying that ‘At any stage, people can hijack your purchase, hijack your page views…At any stage of the experience you can either shape or destroy your brand reputation if you are an employee, and have your mind and behaviour changed if you’re a customer’.

This change has been largely brought about by the internet, where customers expect instant responses and can rapidly share their views on your organisation – good or bad – with vast numbers of consumers and influencers.

Social media is at the forefront of this. Although it can be an invaluable marketing tool, it comes with its own risks. Minimising these risks in your own social media strategy is essential if you want to reap the benefits of instant, reactive communication without suffering the disadvantages.

  • Avoid the reputational banana skins

So – if you want to make sure you don’t fall foul of the potential traps, what do you need to do? How can you preserve your brand reputation in today’s fast-moving, consumer-driven landscape?

  • Live your brand

Although Clifton believes that mega-brands like Amazon, Google and Apple ‘in many ways obey the classic principles of building a strong brand’, Amazon in particular risks losing ground by failing to ‘ensure its coherence carries through to how it treats staff’.

Your brand needs to extend through to every element of your operations, customer service and employee experience.  This might seem like a job for Operations or Compliance, but in fact Marketing can play a key role in helping to minimise your organisation’s conduct risk.

This is something the world’s leading global brands are adept at

  • Deliver what you say you will

As Clifton says, ‘It costs quite a lot of money to get to the top of search engines and get to people in the right way. It’s very cheap marketing when you can get people to love you and talk about you.’

Key to this is delivering on what you promise.

  • Be consistent in your presentation

Your marketing materials, financial promotions, communications and client documents are the public face of your business. They need to be on-brand, consistent and high quality 100% of the time.

Getting an agency briefing right is central to achieving this – and how automated tools, like online slide libraries, can help.

  • Stay visible – and compliant

Having a strong brand presence increasingly means delivering something truly valuable to clients and prospects.

Whether this is producing engaging content marketing by writing content that your Compliance can approve or sharing it via a compliant social media strategy, remaining visible and relevant is essential.

Follow these tips and you can help to avoid some of the potential pitfalls that await even the strongest brands.

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